I was a Girl Scout. Like practically every other girl in my neighborhood. It’s just what you did. I mean, we were in the ‘burbs, so 4-H wasn’t an option, and that’s long before soccer, which certainly wasn’t an option for me anyway – I had no skills of any athletic kind – I didn’t play softball – and EVERYONE played softball.
So, Scouting it was. And I was terrible at it. Ok, I could sing songs and eat snacks with the best of them, but that was about my limit. I wasn’t much into the crafts because they never had lefty scissors, so my objets d’art looked more like objets de merde. I remember being frustrated to tears, repeatedly.
The uniforms were hideous. This would have been early 80s, which were sartorially problematic in their own right. I wanted the Tangerine Knit shirt to be different. I then realized, not for the last time in my life that although I thought I wanted to be different, I really just needed to blend the hell in. The polyester in “cocoa” was hideous, and hot.
|Nice tunics there, bitches!|
Our leader was an overly stern woman who once got pissy when we mentioned ditching the uniforms. I notice now that she didn’t wear the Adult Uniform. I should track her down and mention that to her. She got pissy a lot, but she also taught me to add black pepper and dill weed to tuna salad, so she had at least one redeeming quality.
I hated camping. In fact, my body reacted violently to all the wholesome outdoorsy-ness, because within eight hours of arriving to Sludgy Meadows or Camp Beaverwood, I’d have a raging sore throat, upper respiratory mayhem and a body ache. Every. Single. Time.
Cookie sales were brutal. Since every little girl in my elementary school was a scout, our customer base was tapped out early. I was not terribly aggressive, either. It paved the way for a lifetime of not wanting to go into sales. I don’t care how lucrative it could be, it’s not my bag of cookies. Honestly, I didn’t want to sell the cookies, I wanted to eat them.
Which brings us to the raison d’etre of scouts everywhere: badges. I couldn’t tell you what badges I earned. I actually have them in a box – my mother found them and gave them to me. Now, in theory – they could be my sister’s - that’s how memorable the badge earning process was. The problem is that badges where always for things like “Nature Appreciation ” and “Fun with Textiles” and “Your Friend, The Encyclopedia”.
There is not, to my best knowledge, a merit badge that you get for memorizing every line of dialogue from the movie Airplane, or one for consistently picking out the best item on any menu, or one for reading every book in the “All of a Kind Family” series thereby gaining a strong understanding of a Jewish family living in 1910 NYC and many minor Jewish holidays. I’ve yet to receive my WTBS badge, for watching hours and hours of Channel 17’s afternoon programming.
Anyway, it wasn’t totally pointless. It taught me grace under pressure, and that tangerine is not my color, and I learned that adults aren’t always nice, and that neither are kids.
It was good prep for being in a sorority, it taught me to get along with people who aren’t my BFFs, and it was a serious rite of passage. I loved it, I hated it. But it’s a part of me.
I should sew a few badges on my bag for fun.